It's my Mum's fault. Well, her and the trucks on the news. Growing up in the 1980s, eating veal in Britain was a no-no - cruel, barbaric, inhumane - I wasn't sure why, but my Mum told me so. And you know, who am I to argue.
Things have changed now, in the U.K. at least. EU regulations and an increase in the knowledge surrounding farming and food sourcing means that veal has become a viable meat. Indeed, epicureans are encouraging us to eat it, otherwise it's perceived to be a waste and the young cows in question are dispatched.
I say all this because veal (a hearty T-bone) is on the new lunchtime grill menu at Coq D'Argent in London. And the light-pinky slab of flesh's slightly shady past fits in well with this well-known hub of City life. It's elegant and tasty and smells good, has a hint of decadence, but you also feel a bit naughty eating it.
Seeing as we're in this summer of sun and it's all about the grill, my guest and I also partook of the rib-eye, which was beautifully cooked and bountiful. It made up for the fact that while we sat close to the terrace, we didn't quite make it out there (to be fair, the place was rammed).
Being allergic to red wine always makes me a bit nervous when eating steak in a restaurant, like I'm going to get told off for not accepting the unpleasant aftermath in return for giving my taste buds what they need to truly enjoy the meal. But our sommelier recommended an excellent Chablis which complemented the meat well and also tasted good alongside my South Devon cock crab salad, which featured a lot of crustacean (good) and wasn't over-sauced (better).
My dining partner had a braised octopus and artichoke salad, which was as delicious as it sounds. Again, no stinting on the octopus.
Sitting in amongst business meetings and office flirtations, the atmosphere is a complex one at Coq D'Argent, but our waitress was keen and smiley and the maple and custard tart with roasted peach had a well-crafted and delicate nuttiness.
Make sure you confirm a table outside, watch the chef at work in his little hut-type kitchen area and try the veal...